Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Let us pay...

In Durham the other day for reasons that need not worry you I found myself next to the cathedral, world heritage site that it is. So I thought I might pop in until my companion informed me that there’s a £5.00 entrance fee.

Chester Cathedral does the same, and the entranceway there, which takes you past a souvenir shop before you arrive at the cathedral proper, is appropriately situated next to a branch of Barclays Bank which is actually part of the fabric of the cathedral structure. Talk about God and Mammon.

I mean, all right. It’s very expensive to maintain a cathedral and visitors can cause inadvertent damage. I once read that the moisture from the breath of the millions who visit Notre Dame annually is the single biggest threat to its interior. All this is taken on board, but I don't remember Jesus saying 'Where two or three are gathered in my name there shall be a small charge because of inevitable overheads'.

Everyone I’ve mentioned this too asks the same question. What happens during a service? I assume they don’t charge so how is it policed? You inevitably start thinking: bouncers! Or at least I do. This of course leads to the possibility of being turned away from evensong because you’re not wearing a tie, or a mitre or whatever.

Now I’m not a churchgoer, I’ve never been baptised or entered into any faith and I’m with the Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman character who avoided going to church and the church he avoided going to was the good old CofE. I therefore accept that it is arguably none of my business whether Durham, Chester or my parish church decide to charge entry. If I’m using them as museums then I should pay accordingly.

But that feels wrong. A place of worship surely must be open to all or open to none. And the Church of England is the established church of this country and so has a duty towards every British subject regardless of their beliefs. So I think it would be good if they cut the admission fee and make up the shortfall by, oh I don’t know, selling a couple of bishops.

Oh and my companion assured me that we would see Bill Bryson and we didn’t so I’m sulking.

No comments:

Post a Comment